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How to Read Body Language
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How to Read Body Language
If the eyes are the windows of the soul, then the body is the mirror of
our feelings. If we are feeling great it shows in how we hold and use our
body. Conversely, if we look at someone else’s body we can often tell how
they are feeling by the signals their body is giving.
So when it comes to dating, using/reading body language signals is a great
tool. You can observe this by watching a couple flirting with each other.
In case you don’t think learning how to read and use body language is not
important, here are some statistics about the messages we receive from
someone we meet.
• 7% of the information we receive is from what they actually say.
• 38% of information we receive is from the tone, inflection and speed
of their voice.
• A staggering 55% of the information we receive is from their
body language.
These non-verbal signals will help you in dealing with the person but stay
focussed on what the person is saying. If you focus too much on their body
language signals, you and/or the other person may feel uncomfortable.
It is useful to be able to read people’s body language, but it is equally useful
to learn how to get your body to send the right signals and eliminate the
wrong signals. See below for some body language signals.
Be warned: body language is very much open to interpretation. Many
signals have different meanings depending on the person/situation. Keep this
mind when you assess a body language signal.
Note: Look for 3 or 4 signals that convey a similar message or the oneoff inconsistent signal. Also, consciously practise reading/doing some of
the signals as much as you can. Learning, as you practise, what works
and what doesn’t work for you will help you gain confidence to use body
language techniques consciously.
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How to Read Body Language
Body Language Signals:
• Open arms:
o Energetically open and possibly feeling vulnerable
o A good way to show you are approachable, especially when
combined with open palms
• Palms up/open hands:
o Defences down
o An open heart
• Palms on chest – When a person uses open palms that occasionally
touch their chest, they are signalling honesty
• Outward, upward hand movements – This conveys an open and
positive message
• Folded arms:
o A defence mechanism that shows the person is not open to what
is being said or done
o May mean rejection
o Physically cold
o Stubborn in their outlook
• Hands closed – A closed heart
• Doodling – Bored
• Fist:
o Anger and to be avoided
o Physically cold
o Very tense
o Defiant or triumphant when held in air
• Feet under the chair – A sign of eagerness
• Looking around:
o Wants to get away
o Thinking about something else
o Bored with situation/conversation
• Stroking chin – evaluating
• Mirroring – This is evidence of two people getting on really well.
Each person copies the other’s body language, usually subtly.
Mirroring occurs with:
o Breathing
o Gestures
o Eye movement
o Leaning towards each other at the same time
o Crossed or uncrossed legs
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How to Read Body Language
o Speech pattern
o Arm movement, or no arm movement
o Emotive energy such as being excited, relaxed, etc.
Note: If you practice this with somebody the key is to be subtle and
not be a copycat. There is a natural rhythm to the process, which is the
o Bored
o Tired and that may have nothing to do with the
Preening – This shows someone knows they are attractive
For example, flicking or stroking their hair or adjusting a collar and/or
a tie.
Ear Tugging:
o Indecision
o Possible deception
Puffing out chest – this has nothing to do with silicone implants. Men
do this when demonstrating their attraction to someone.
Nodding – The occasional nod from a listener to a speaker is a
positive message. It is an indication they are listening and are
Too much nodding – This indicates the listener has lost interest and
may be bored. (Probably where the saying ‘nodding off to sleep’ came
Chopping hands down – This is an aggressive act, usually used to
Body space – Respect for the other person’s body space is crucial in
gaining their trust. Stay at least one arm’s length away from them.
Striding briskly:
o An outward display of confidence
o Anger
Gentle leg shaking:
o The person is mildly stimulated
o May need to go to toilet
Vigorous leg shaking:
o Reveals apprehension and nerves
o Desperate to go to the toilet
On toes – Eagerness
Clears throat:
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How to Read Body Language
o Anxiety
o Has a cough/sore throat
o Habit
Pretends to kick imaginary things on ground - frustration
Open feet – reflecting and giving attention.
Flushed cheeks:
o Indicates interest in the other person
o Embarrassment (usually temporary)
Dilated pupils:
o Interested in someone.
o Focussed
o High on drugs
High blink rate:
o A person who has an interest in someone will have an increased
blink rate.
o Nervousness
o Assessing
o Has an eye disorder
Backwards moving:
o Rejecting
o Escaping
Moving away – Sometimes there is no hidden meaning.
Slumped posture:
o Bored
o Low self-esteem/confidence
Legs entwined – A woman who is interested in someone will often
cross and uncross her legs when seated.
Gazing – A woman will gaze long enough for someone to notice then
will quickly look away. Her mouth may open and lips slightly wet.
Low voice – When interested in someone a woman may speak in a
low voice.
Running hand along leg – sexually interested in the other person
Running hands along legs:
o Really sexually interested in the other person
o Getting ready to leave
Directly facing you with open stance – The person is interested and
you have their attention.
Drumming fingers:
o Impatient
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o May be a drummer
Open mouth:
o You have said something outrageous and their jaw has dropped in
o The person has tried to interrupt the conversation to get a word in,
but you haven’t paused.
o May be a sign of attraction
Tilt of hips – Sign of attraction and a good flirting tool
Finger pointing:
o Sign of assertiveness
o Sign of aggression
Open legs – Receptive to the other person
o Defiance
o Sign of aggression
Looks you in the eyes without staring – Confident, self-assured.
Doesn’t look you in the eyes:
o Lack of confidence
o Is being deceptive
Standing upright – reflects inner confidence and comfort level.
Chewing fingernails – Nerves. The person is not feeling secure. If
they swallow, there may not be enough calcium in their diet.
Quick and animated arm and hand movements – Lying
Note: Many honest, passionate people also do this.
Darting eyes – deception.
Shifting eyes – At the very least may be a lack of confidence or at
worst it is indication of a deception. Definitely means deception when
combined with a nose rub and ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’.
People tend to look down and to the left when lying.
Running fingers through hair:
o Frustration
o Preening
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How to Read Body Language
Find Philip Redhead’s expert dating guides at:
Ten top online dating tips:
How to make your first date special:
Ten good ideas for a date:
Give yourself a makeover:
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© Empower Solutions 2003
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